The Missouri Dairy Grazing Conference provides insights and in-depth help on turning grass into green dollars with regular milk checks.
The biennial meeting, July 7-8 in Springfield, Mo., promotes dairy farms where cows, not farmers, harvest forage, says Joe Horner, University of Missouri Extension dairy economist.
Grazing dairies make low-cost milk by cutting feed, harvest and storage costs.
Another appeal is less labor on the part of producers, Horner says. Dairy farming offers a way for young farmers to get started in farming.
The two-day conference starts with tours of four grazing dairy farms in southwestern Missouri. "Each stop offers new approaches to parts of the grazing operation," Horner says.
Producers increase forage production and use management-intensive rotational grazing. Large pastures are divided into grazing paddocks to harvest grass and legumes at peak nutrition.
Usually cows go to a fresh grazing paddock after each trip to the milking shed.
"Grazing dairies have evolved since the start," Horner says. "They get bigger and more efficient." Farm tours show new ideas in grazing, feeding and breeding.
"Missouri, with plentiful feed and good forage-growing climate, provides options to producers," he says.
For openers, MU Extension specialists Stacey Hamilton, dairy, and Rob Kallenbach, forages, describe "Systems That Work." They are followed by David Combs, dairy scientist from the University of Wisconsin. He tells of "Forage Energy and Digestibility."
Forages for dairy grazing are changing. One report will be on the novel-endophyte fescue studies at the MU Southwest Center, Mount Vernon. Another will be on innovative traits and technologies in forage plants.
A bit of beef breeding will creep into the dairy conference. Colten Green, Genex Cooperative, will tell of breeding dairy cows to beef bulls.
The tours, July 7, visit Edgewood Dairy, Purdy; Meier Dairy, Monett; VanDalfsen Farms, Reeds; and Grasslands White Oak Dairy, a part of Fortuna Farms, Avila.
"Farmers like to learn from farmers who make successes of their farms," Horner says.
On July 8 the program moves indoors to hear speakers from universities, industry and dairy farms.
Different topics describe rewards and risks of grass-based diaries, Horner says.
The meeting will be at the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Oasis Convention Center, 2546 N. Glenstone Ave., Springfield.
Program details, along with options to register electronically, are atdairy.missouri.edu/grazing/conference.
Registration is to Kim Foley of the MU Conference Office, 344 Hearnes Center, Columbia, MO 65211.
Basic fee, before June 24, is $150 per person. However, low-cost options are given to multiple people from one farm. In addition, $100 rebates are provided to members of the Missouri Dairy Association.
Advance registration is required. Early registration is requested.
A trade show will be held the second day. Exhibit space is available.
At the show, the Missouri Department of Agriculture will have information on moving a dairy to Missouri.
Missouri has started a program of dairy revitalization to grow milk production in the state.
The conference, which grows in popularity, provides farmers and industry people a chance to learn dairy updates. "Best of all, the meeting allows farmers to learn from one another. Networking with others is important," Horner says.
The trade show displays new products and services.
Source: University of Missouri Extension